Start Page: Microsoft Word for lawyers: Give me a (section) break

May 17, 2017

WilsonAs we have learned, Microsoft Word formats between the ¶ marks in a document. But, Word can also format different “sections” of a document. Think of an appellate brief. On the first few pages, you might want a cover page, followed by some introductory material (Table of Contents, Table of Authorities, etc.) paginated with lower case Roman numerals (e.g., i, ii., iii). The remaining part of the document should contain Arabic (e.g., 1, 2, 3) page numbers. This task can be handled with sections.

This article will show you how to apply two types of page numbering in one document. Future articles will build on this skill to help you craft complex Microsoft Word documents.

In the appellate brief example, a common solution to this challenging document is to create separate documents — a cover page, a Table of Contents, a Table of Authorities (more on these features in other articles), and the main brief. For an example, see these forms (http://bit.ly/ICOAForms) from the Indiana Court of Appeals. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with this approach, but you can be more efficient.

Instead of creating multiple files with different page number formats applied, let Word do the work for you.

Divide your document into sections

To learn how Sections work, open up a new Word document. Type “Section 1, Page i” anywhere on the first page. Now, look at the bottom of the screen and you should see a menu bar. (The lower right-hand side of this menu bar shows the zoom level for the document). Right click anywhere on that bar and you will see the different options you can choose to see along that bottom area of the screen.

For now, we just want to see what section we are in. So, click “Section,” and click back into your document. The menu disappears and Word shows you, toward the lower left-hand corner of the screen, the phrase “Section: 1.” This tells you that your cursor is located in Section 1 of your document. Any formatting applied in Section 1 will be carried throughout Section 1.

Now, look back up at the top of your screen and click on “Layout” on the Ribbon. You should see a menu item called “Breaks” (under the Page Setup area). Here, you can insert a Page or Section Break. A brief overview of the types of section breaks can be found on Microsoft’s Support Site (http://bit.ly/mswsection). For now, click on “Next Page.” Word will insert the section break and add (1) a new page, and (2) new section to your document. (Tip: If you click Show/Hide ¶ marks, you can see the section break).

Scroll to and click near the top of Page 2 and type “Section 2, Page 2” so you can track where you are in the document. The Status Bar in the lower left-hand corner should now show “Page: 2 Section 2.”

If you click anywhere on page 1, you will see you are in section 1. If you click in page 2, you will see you are in section 2. Why is this important? Because you now have your document divided appropriately and Word can apply different types of page numbers to each section.

Page through your document

Place your cursor where you typed “Section 1, Page i.” We want Word to insert a lower case Roman numeral on this page. On the ribbon, click “Insert | Page Number” (under the Header & Footer area), choose “Bottom of Page,” and “Plain Number 1.”

Word will take you to the footer of the page, showing you a number and a screen tip that states “Footer -Section 1-.” The page number will likely be an Arabic number (e.g., 1). To format this number to be a small Roman numeral (i), look at the ribbon. Word should have selected the “Header & Footer Tools” and the “Design” portion of the ribbon. On the left-hand side of that menu bar, you will see the “Header & Footer” area and on the right side of that submenu, you will see the “Page Number” options.

Click “Page Number | Format Page Number.” Under “Number Format:” choose “i, ii, iii, … .” Click “OK.” Then, close the Header & Footer.

You now know how to use sections to apply different formatting to different parts of your Word documents.


This is often where users get frustrated — trying to make different types of page numbers appear at the right place. But it’s not too difficult and has to do with understanding how Word links headers and footers, which will be covered in the next article.•


Seth R. Wilson is an attorney with Adler Tesnar & Whalin in Noblesville. In addition to practicing law, he helps manage the day-to-day technology operations of the firm. Seth writes about legal technology at sethrwilson.com and is a frequent speaker on the subject. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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